Al Rayan Bank has informed its charity clients that they can no longer make transactions outside of the European Union, which could potentially cripple their aid work in places such as Syria, Palestine, Pakistan, Bangladesh and elsewhere.
5Pillars understands that the Qatari-owned bank, which mainly serves Muslim clients, recently sent the letter to dozens of charities.
The letter states: “We regularly review the accounts, products and services that we offer to our customers. Following a recent review, we have taken the decision to amend the international payments feature we offer on your account.
“Whilst you will still be able to make international payments through Al Rayan Bank to beneficiaries within the European Union (EU), you will no longer be able to make international payments to any beneficiary outside of the EU. This letter is our formal notification to you of this change.
“In line with our Business Banking Terms and Conditions, we are giving 60 days’ notice of the change to our international payment facility.”
Sources have told 5Pillars that Al Rayan is extremely strict in its scrutiny of clients. In 2019, following discussions with the Financial Conduct Authority, the bank agreed to place a temporary restriction on new deposit accounts for individuals it classified as “high risk” or “politically exposed,” although the bank said all other aspects of the business were unaffected.
It is believed Al Rayan’s banking restrictions could devastate many Muslim charities who have had their accounts closed elsewhere. And as these charities do the majority of their aid work outside of the EU, it is uncertain how they can continue to appeal for funds to help the needy in these regions.
Mosques which bank with Al Rayyan will also be unable to transfer fitrana money to places such as Pakistan and Bangladesh.
Founded in 2004 as the first Islamic retail bank in Europe, Al Rayan Bank currently serves more than 85,000 customers, over a third of whom are believed to be non-Muslim.
With an asset book of almost £2billion, Al Rayan Bank is today the UK’s largest Islamic bank and provides Islamic finance to many thousands of Muslim households in the UK.